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Number of orphans continues to rise

  • Source: Global Times
  • [00:25 June 02 2011]
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By Wen Ya

The number of orphans in China grew from 574,000 in 2005 to 712,000 in 2010, up 24 percent in five years, according to the China Welfare in China Stocktaking Report 2011, which was released on Tuesday.

The ratio of male to female orphans was 1.37 to 1 in 2005, similar to that in 2010, according to Xu Jia, a researcher at the Beijing Normal University One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute and one of the authors of the report.

"Usually, the term 'orphan' refers to teenagers under 18 who have lost or are unable to find their parents," Xu told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"In our country, their numbers are very difficult to collect," she said.

That's one of the main reasons for the big difference between orphan numbers in 2005 and 2010, Xu said.

Before 2005, when the first national orphans survey was conducted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and relevant experts, there was no specific data about orphans, she said.

"Even though they made great efforts in the investigation, there were some orphans who weren't covered by the survey. And in the following surveys, the missing numbers were constantly added to them," Xu said.

The second reason is that many children were orphaned after natural disasters or were abandoned by their families when they became disabled or seriously ill in poverty-stricken areas, she said.

The third is that some children are abandoned when one of their parents dies and the remaining parent remarries, Xu said.

"As years go by, the surveys that follow are more accurate and can cover more orphans. However, the latest statistics can't include all orphans scattered around China," Zheng Yuanchang, an official from the Social Welfare and Charity Affairs Office of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The government first gave subsidies to nationwide orphans in January of 2010. During that year, the central government arranged 2.5 billion yuan ($385.75 million) for orphans, according to the report.

This year, the fund to the orphans will increase to 3.6 billion yuan, "marking the establishment of the first wide subsidy system of orphans in China," the report said.

Released by the office, the institute and the United Nations Children's Fund, the report suggests that the government improve systems covering three sectors: Children's serious diseases, their disabilities and preschool education.

By 2008, there were 278 million children aged 18 and below in China, the report said.

"Compared to the large population, 60 billion yuan is not a big sum. Compared with developed countries, children's social welfare still has a long way to go," Xu said.